Cloud In Today's Business

Shrinath Bolloju, Chief Operations Officer, RBL Bank Headquartered in Mumbai, RBL Bank is a commercial bank offering expert assistance in a range of banking services categorized in five sectors, namely, Corporate & Institutional Banking, Commercial Banking, Retail Banking, Agri & Development Banking and Financial Markets.

Traditional compute and storage models that corporations adopted were driven by the need for huge data processing capability and meeting regulatory requirement around data integrity and secrecy (for instance, banking). It, therefore, became an accepted model to incur significant capital expense in creating on-premises capability for housing servers and related equipment within in-house data centres along with associated disaster recovery capability.

In the last couple of years, the emergence of cloud computing as an alternate approach for corporations
to service their data processing needs has developed momentum. Cloud computing in its simplest form can be defined as the practice of using a network of remote servers hosted on the Internet to store, manage, and process data, versus a local server or a personal computer. This relatively new approach is able to provide significant benefits to users in a number of ways such as:

Capacity Management: Moving from the traditional approach of sizing hardware for peak loads to availing capacity ‘on-tap’. In fact the major cloud computing service providers offer virtually unlimited capacity. This addresses the twin challenge of meeting peak demands and ensuring unnecessary idle capacity is not created.

Speed to Innovate & Speed to Market: This ensures reduced cycle time to plan and invest in physical infrastructure along with low cost of failure/experimentation

Capex to Opex: Users can now launch new services without having to make provision for significant capex to support such launches. The opex model will ensure users will only pay for what they use.

Increased Business Agility: It eliminates complex infrastructure management by making this a non-core activity that can be handled by the cloud service provider.
Disaster Recovery: It’s another key benefit is the ability to do away with a dedicated DR capability for the hosted service and rely on the inherent design of the cloud provider who would typically have ‘zones’ spread across the country /internationally to ensure high availability.

Information Security: Data security can now be a service, rather than having to be built as part of the infrastructure and this is the exact service that comes embedded in the cloud.

Cloud computing in its simplest form can be defined as the practice of using a network of remote servers hosted on the Internet to store, manage, and process data, versus a local server or a personal computer

What can move on cloud?
SaaS as a cloud service, comprises of ERPs & CRM that are applications on cloud, facilitating remote access and easy installation for users.

Payment Gateway on Cloud: Facilitates maximum up time and secure payment can happen without any
system glitches

Archival, Retrieval & Storage: Typical workloads for a cloud environment are Batch Workloads, Transactional Workloads, Analytics Workloads, High Performance Workloads and Database Workloads, for example, data pertaining to statements.

Not suitable for cloud are workloads which demand high-performance network storage, legacy application
workloads that require very low latency and database clustering that requires very high throughput (speed)on the network.

Concerns Around Moving to Cloud
Security: This is an increasing area of concern for most entities, especially those in the BFSI sector. Security concerns have been the single biggest hurdle for adoption by banks and other large regulated entities. This is accentuated with current and forthcoming regulations on data privacy (especially personal data). To mitigate the risk ‘encrypted cloud service/storage and sensitive info on private storage’are the two options available.

Regulatory & Compliance: Regulations in most jurisdictions require data (especially in the banking sector)to be stored in the home country. Most service providers have responded by setting-up server farms in key jurisdictions to enable current and potential cloud users get the benefit of the hosted service without having to compromise on compliance.

What is the ‘Best’ Cloud Approach Today?
Unless one is operating on a green field setup, a hybrid strategy is the way to go. Core Banking Solutions and applications are for the most part only now evolving to come-up with versions that can run on the cloud and in most cases, existing users of most well-known core banking solutions run on legacy versions which require significant effort and investment to migrate. A setup where the core solutions are on-Premises and the peripheral cloud ready solutions are hosted on the cloud is a good starting point from where the organization can build a more agile infrastructure to support business growth. It is an imperative for most large and growing organizations to migrate onto cloud-enabled platforms and eventually do away with in-house on-premises physical infrastructure, unless there are very specific regulatory requirements or technical constraints that are not(yet) compatible with a cloud infrastructure.